• 24 April 2015

UK’s First Collaborative Equine Foot Care Campaign Launched

The launch of the UK’s first campaign to bring together the farrier and vet to work as a team with horse owners to keep horses sound was launched at World Horse Welfare’s Norfolk-based Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre earlier last month.

The collaborative campaign, Keep One Step Ahead, has been developed by members of the independent veterinary group, XLEquine, who have worked closely with World Horse Welfare to deliver the initiative.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Stuart Thorne MRCVS of XLEquine member practice, Fellowes Farm Equine Clinic, explained that although vets, farriers and horse owners each have a significant role in hoof healthcare, working together this becomes much stronger. “The aim of the campaign is to promote close collaboration so that the horses in our care receive the best treatment.

“The old adage ‘No foot no horse’ remains as true as ever, however through owner education and farrier collaboration the aim of the campaign is to change this to ‘know foot, know horse’,” added Stuart.

The launch includes an information booklet for horse owners called ‘Keep one step ahead’. Member practices will also be running seminars for farriers as well as unique practical training workshops for horse owners from the XLEquine EquineSkills programme.

Stuart highlighted the complex structure of the horse’s foot and the impact of ridden work on the foot, and even during regular exercise and jumping, it is quite incredible that it doesn’t break more often!” he added.

Dr Chris Lehrbach MRCVS of XLEquine member practice, Chapelfield Veterinary Partnership, explained that with the horse not naturally designed to be ridden or to live and work on many of the surfaces that their owners expect them to, many of the problems we see are due to their management and what we ask of them. “We know that the list of conditions that make up the vast majority of lamenesses is extensive, but many of these can be avoided by careful management and collaboration with the farrier,” noted Chris.

“Advances in diagnostic imaging have been a real eye opener on the causes of lameness and has enabled vets and farriers to put this knowledge towards developing solutions, both remedial and preventative, that maximise equine welfare and positive outcomes.”

John Blake AWCF, of Breckland Farriers Ltd has been farrier to World Horse Welfare for nearly thirty years and has seen a huge range of conditions during that time: “As farriers we often need information from the vet – the more we get, the better judgement we can make. Technological advances are helping us greatly; I can get X-Rays sent over from the vet to my iPhone or to my client in an instant. However the key to good communication and collaboration is still to speak to people!”

During his practical demonstration, John explained that modern farriery uses practical engineering solutions to create shoe designs for remedial work and correction. “As we learn more about the hoof, farriers are having to come up with engineering solutions that our predecessors were not able to,” he concluded.

Also launched at the event was an educational film by World Horse Welfare for horse owners, highlighting practical tips and information for horse owners. The charity has put hoof care at the forefront of a brand new educational initiative: a series of short, friendly and easy-to-follow online films aimed at owners who are diligent about good welfare practices. The clip is available at www.youtube.com/horsecharity.

The booklet, ‘Keep one step ahead’ is available to all equine clients of XLEquine member practices, or it is available to view at http://www.xlequine.co.uk/content/keeponestepahead.


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